Adult learning or Adult Education is a new area of study that differs from children and teens education. It is more likely a work related study, non-formal education including learning skills or learning for personal development. As the father of Adult Learning, Malcom Knowles, introduced the concept of “Andragogy” which is the art and science of helping adults learn.
Most adult learners have different reasons such as work related motivations such as to achieve promotion, secure professional status and be a competitive individual. On personal motivations such as to expand social network, relive boredom, to have a break from home or work, diversify oneself from problems or a reason just for the sake of learning or fulfill an inquisitive mind. Motivations comes with barriers too with adult learners. Most of them have already responsibilities to balance with the study. Barriers can be lack of funds, lack of time, positive reinforcement, only a secondary priority to work and family needs.
A teacher is challenged to develop a plan and motivate the learner in different approaches depending on the learner’s receptive capabilities and type of learner.
Two Types of Learners :
Global Learners. These people are the ones whose attention needs to be captured using short stories, anecdotes, humor, and illustrations. They need to know what they need to learn and why they need to learn it.
Analytic Learners. These people learn best when information is introduced step by step and fact by fact.
Framework domains in which learning can take place :
Cognitive Domain. It concerns with the acquisition of knowledge.
Psychomotor. It relates to the development of skills.
Affective. It is about the attitude formation of the learner.
According to the study conducted by Dorothy D. Billington from her “Ego Development and Adult Education”, here are the Seven Factors in Adult Learning environments which best facilitate adult growth and development :
1. An environment where students feel safe and supported, where individual needs and uniqueness are honored, where abilities and life achievements are acknowledged and respected.
2. An environment that fosters intellectual freedom and encourages experimentation and creativity.
3. An environment where faculty treats adult students as peers–accepted and respected as intelligent experienced adults whose opinions are listened to, honored, appreciated. Such faculty members often comment that they learn as much from their students as the students learn from them.
4. Self-directed learning, where students take responsibility for their own learning. They work with faculty to design individual learning programs which address what each person needs and wants to learn in order to function optimally in their profession.
5. Pacing, or intellectual challenge. Optimal pacing is challenging people just beyond their present level of ability. If challenged too far beyond, people give up. If challenged too little, they become bored and learn little. Pacing can be compared to playing tennis with a slightly better player; your game tends to improve. But if the other player is far better and it’s impossible to return a ball, you give up, overwhelmed. If the other player is less experienced and can return none of your balls, you learn little. Those adults who reported experiencing high levels of intellectual stimulation–to the point of feeling discomfort–grew more.
6. Active involvement in learning, as opposed to passively listening to lectures. Where students and instructors interact and dialogue, where students try out new ideas in the workplace, where exercises and experiences are used to bolster facts and theory, adults grow more.
7. Regular feedback mechanisms for students to tell faculty what works best for them and what they want and need to learn–and faculty who hear and make changes based on student input.